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New Dundee mental health charity sets to improve lives of youngsters

A new charity aimed at improving the lives of young people with mental health issues has been awarded funding to implement projects in Dundee.

Feeling Strong was set up by Brook Marshall who felt there was a gap in the existing support for people living with mental health problems.

The former Abertay University student President, wanted to create positive destinations for people by fostering their skills, confidence and aspirations that in turn will help them lead fulfilled and successful lives.

With support from Business Gateway Dundee, Brook launched the charity earlier this year and is now running two projects which will see local youngsters speak to MSP’s as well as creating a digital guide to help young people feel strong.

Brook said: “While I was at university I was involved in campaigning and advocacy and after graduating it was natural that I would continue this type of work. I’ve had personal experiences with mental health issues and I felt that there was still a lot that could be done, especially when it came to early intervention. I decided that the best way to tackle this was to set up my own charity filling the gaps between NHS services such as counselling. I wanted Feeling Strong to be about improving the lives of people by helping them gain confidence and developing skills which can then lead to employment and living a fuller life in general.

This support has been really important as it allowed me to set up Feeling Strong in the correct manner with a plan to follow in future.

“Setting up a charity is similar to running a business so I went along to Business Gateway to learn skills that are transferable. I learned how to put together an operational plan and also gained knowledge on financials, taking on staff and HRMC. This support has been really important as it allowed me to set up Feeling Strong in the correct manner with a plan to follow in future.”

Feeling Strong aims to work with 200 young people in Dundee and the surrounding areas over the next year before expanding throughout Scotland in five years’ time.

Currently, Brook and the team of volunteers are running two projects funded by Dundee Youth Fund. The first, Dundee Can Listen, puts young people in front of elected officials to talk about their own experiences and what impact local services can have on their wellbeing. With an emphasis on listening to personal stories and recommendations, Brook hopes to put young people at the very core of every conversation about mental health services.

The second project is A Young People’s Guide to Feeling Strong which will be a digital guide providing information and guidance on what support is out there.

Brook added: “These two projects are now up and running which is fantastic. We have another two campaigns that we hope to secure grants for which will see us going into local schools and matching up young people with positive role models who can show them what success while living with a mental health illness can look like. I’m really excited about Feeling Strong and it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done. I hope in future we will be operational throughout Scotland working with a mix of paid staff and volunteers.”

Lynn Maccabe of Business Gateway Dundee said: “Although Brook was setting up a charity, essentially they need to have the same skills as any business owner and so we focused our support on areas they will use on a day-to-day basis. Knowing how to deal with finances and how to implement plans are crucial for any enterprise and as Feeling Strong grows Brook knows we are on hand to offer additional expertise in new areas.”

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